Through A Different Lens

Welcome Back Dear Readers,

This time I am visited by a returning authoress, who visited my very own blog, last year with her book, “The Assistant” namely the lovely Riana Everly. different lens cover 450x675[4886]

Welcome Back Riana!

Riana’s new book, “Through a Different Lens” is A tale of second glances and second chances

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the aloof and arrogant Mr. Darcy since he insulted her at a village dance several months before. But an unexpected conversation with a startling turn of phrase suddenly causes her to reassess everything she thought she knew about the infuriating and humourless gentleman.

Elizabeth knows something of people who think differently. Her young cousin in London has always been different from his siblings and peers, and Lizzy sees something of this boy’s unusual traits in the stern gentleman from Derbyshire whose presence has plagued her for so long. She approaches him in friendship and the two begin a tentative association. But is Lizzy’s new understanding of Mr. Darcy accurate? Or was she right the first time? And will the unwelcome appearance of a nemesis from the past destroy any hopes they might have of happiness?

!!Warning!! This variation of Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice depicts our hero as having a neurological difference. If you need your hero to be perfect, this might not be the book for you. But if you like adorable children, annoying birds, and wonderful dogs, and are open to a character who struggles to make his way in a world he does not quite comprehend, with a heroine who can see the man behind his challenges, and who celebrates his strengths while supporting his weaknesses, then read on! You, too, can learn what wonders can be found when we see the familiar through a different lens.

Authoress Bio of our dear Riana! riana everly head shot[4887]

Riana Everly was born in South Africa but has called Canada home since she was eight years old. She has a Master’s degree in Medieval Studies and is trained as a classical musician, specializing in Baroque and early Classical music. She first encountered Jane Austen when her father handed her a copy of Emma at age 11 and has never looked back.

Riana now lives in Toronto with her family. When she is not writing, she can often be found playing string quartets with friends, biking around the beautiful province of Ontario with her husband, trying to improve her photography, thinking about what to make for dinner, and, of course, reading!
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Riana’s second novel, The Assistant, was awarded the Jane Austen Award by Jane Austen Readers’ Awards, and her debut novel, Teaching Eliza, was listed on a list of 2017 Favourite Books on the blog Savvy Verse & Wit. For both of these honours, she is delighted and very proud!

You can follow Riana’s blog athttps://rianaeverly.com/blog/, and join her on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/) and Twitter (@RianaEverly). She loves meeting readers!

Dear Readers, I have put some questions to Riana, about her book, and here they are;

  1. How did you come up with a Darcy/Gardiner who have the Asperger’s syndrome?

I had thought for a long time that Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a type “high-functioning” autism. A lot of what we see of him in Pride and Prejudice fits with the traits of Asperger’s. More importantly, his own words at Rosings really resonate with one of the main characteristics of the autism spectrum: “I certainly have not the talent which some people possess of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.” And Elizabeth just goads him and complains that he doesn’t try enough. But what if he really cannot understand all those unspoken pieces of communication that most of us take so much for granted?

I then wondered what would happen if Elizabeth did realize that Darcy isn’t just being a jerk but has some issue that makes socializing difficult. The best way she would know this is if she had someone she loved with a similar condition. Knowing the close relationship between Austen’s Lizzy Bennet and the Gardiners, I imagined a cousin with autism, who had taught her as much as she taught him. And this is how Sammy Gardiner came into being.

  1. Do you have personal experience with this “condition”?

These days, with increasing awareness of autism, almost everybody knows someone on the spectrum. I could name all sorts of friends with children somehow affected, some very lightly, others quite profoundly. In my family, my son was diagnosed with Asperger’s several years ago. He is just on the very edge of the spectrum, and most of the time seems perfectly “normal,” but even there I can see the challenges he has with some aspects of non-verbal communication, such as tone or voice or understanding figurative language.

What I have also learned from my son, however, is that along with the challenges can come amazing gifts. He thinks differently; his brain works differently. He can’t tell from my voice that I’m getting angry, but he does crazy math in his head. He speaks four languages fluently, is learning two more, and composes amazing music. So, I can’t call his version of Asperger’s a disability. Rather, it’s a different ability.

  1. Why you chose to write it as the primary element of problem for Darcy?

Partly, I wanted to explore this side of Austen’s Darcy. I took her character and pushed him just a little further along the spectrum, emphasising his autistic traits rather than forcing them on him. Partly, I wanted to write a story where the hero is not perfect, but is a hero nonetheless. Darcy and Sammy are heroes not in spite of their neurological differences, but because of them. Lizzy doesn’t try to fix Darcy. She tries to help him, but she accepts and loves him for who he is.

I didn’t write this book with a strong message in mind, but I wanted to show how when we open our eyes to what’s really important, we can see all sorts of wonderful things that have been hiding right in plain sight all along.

  1. How do you get your ideas for your books?

Ideas come from all different places. Sometimes there is something in the original text that makes me think, “what if…” like how this story came about. Sometimes a small story from the history books sparks an idea, or a minor character cries out for more attention. That’s how The Assistant began—with a question about how the Gardiners met. I have two JAFF mysteries written, (but not yet published) with plans for some more, where Mary Bennet finds that sitting on the edges and watching everyone else have the fun actually makes her a pretty good detective, because she sees and hears so much.

Another unpublished novel I have sitting on my computer casts Lizzy and Darcy into a world of spies and espionage as England is at war with Napoleon’s France, and that one began with the thought, “What if Mr. Bennet wasn’t who he said he was?” There are so many sources of inspiration. They all begin with one question.

  1. What made you write at the very beginning?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I keep finding short stories that I wrote when I was a child. Most of them I had completely forgotten about, but they’re in my handwriting, so they must have come from my brain! About five years ago I set myself a challenge to try a full-length novel, which was a modern P&P digression, and I was more surprised than I thought when I finally completed the 100,000-word-long manuscript. It was so much fun to write, and I loved getting into the heads of my characters and watching them as they came to life and told me what they were going to do next.

This was like an addict’s first taste of something, I think. Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. Luckily, writing isn’t so bad for my health (except when I write and don’t exercise) and it doesn’t make me a dangerous driver (except when I get so lost in thought about what will happen next), so it’s fairly harmless addiction. And if it makes other people smile, then that’s wonderful too!

And Finally, the Giveaway which I know all of you dear readers have been waiting for, namely an opportunity to win a copy of this amazing, new- sighted book.

Giveaway

I’m giving away five copies of Through a Different Lens to readers world-wide! Just sign up through the Rafflecopter widget to enter.
If you prefer not to use Rafflecopter, send me an email message (riana.everly@gmail.com) or leave a note on my Facebook page, and I’ll add you to the list for the draw.
Entries close at midnight Eastern time (GMT-5) on February 10, 2019, so the winners have something to read on Valentine’s Day.

Either put either of this links into your computer, or your phones, and you are in for a chance to win a copy of this book.

<a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/49aa98593/&#8221; rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”49aa98593″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_k0qrj5hw”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

If that code doesn’t work, try this link:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/49aa98593/?

You can contact Riana, on several different platforms, including facebook and others;

Contact

Website: https://rianaeverly.com/
Blog: https://rianaeverly.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/
Twitter https://twitter.com/RianaEverly
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Riana-Everly

And lastly, Riana, have been so kind as to afford us a view into her book, through an excerpt;

(Darcy is accompanying Lizzy and her young cousins on an excursion to the park. Twelve-year-old Sammy has formed a wonderful connection with Darcy’s dog Cabal, but he doesn’t do so well with unpredictable pigeons! )

By now they had reached the pond, which was indeed brilliant with a thousand spangles of reflected light. As the children watched their boats sail across the sparkling water, Elizabeth began to wish that she, too, was in possession of a pair of tinted spectacles, for the glare off the water was distracting in its intensity! But the children seemed not to be bothered in the slightest, and even Samuel laughed and dashed about with a carefree smile upon his face that seemed quite unaffected by the brightness. His boat lost to his brother’s, but he contented himself by holding onto Cabal’s lead and scratching the hound’s head at intervals, to the apparent pleasure of both boy and dog.

When the experiment with the boats was complete, Miss Pierce lived up to her promise and handed small sacks of seed to the younger Gardiner children. Lizzy and Mr. Darcy chatted lightly with the governess as the children tossed the seeds to the waiting pigeons and waterfowl, at first one piece at a time, and then as their excitement grew, in greater quantities. Through this, Samuel stood aside under the shade of one of the large trees, lush with the bright green foliage of ripe springtime, one hand holding Cabal’s lead, the other resting on the dog’s furred head, as the beast sat calmly at his side.

“How well they get along together!” Lizzy directed Mr. Darcy’s attention to the pair—boy and dog—in the shade of the tree, just a step away from the noisy children and the hungry birds, and yet a world apart. “I must talk to my aunt again to see if a pet dog could fit into the household. Perhaps you will have some advice for her on the best breeds. I imagine he would do better with one that is large and calm rather than an active sort of a pet.”

“Indeed, Miss Bennet. I have some definite thoughts on the matter, and if she wishes, can inquire about a pup from one of the breeders in Derby—”

His thought was cut short by a great cry from the direction of the pond. Little Julia, in her exuberance and joy, had flung a great handful of seed into the air whilst spinning on her feet as small children are wont to do. Instead of landing at the edge of the pond, as she had surely expected, some of the seeds fell instead by Samuel, and some even ended up in his hair.

The pigeons, quite unconcerned as to where their food landed, began rushing towards the pair in the shade in a flurry of feathers and beaks and loud caws. Sammy’s eyes widened in horror as the birds descended upon him. Some landed inches from his feet, pecking at the seeds on the grass before him; others had seen or smelled the kernels in his hair and flapped about his head. “No!” he cried, waving his hands about him. “No, no, no!”

The wild motion of his hands scattered the flock for a moment, but the damage had been done. Samuel’s voice rang with panic, and as Lizzy watched, his eyes lost focus as he continued to cry out against the aborted attack of feathered fiends. He continued to flail wildly as he shouted, seemingly unaware of his surroundings.

“Miss Elizabeth, watch the children.” Lizzy barely heard Miss Pierce’s voice. It had a been so long a time since last she had witnessed her cousin so distressed that she was quite in shock. Beside her, she sensed rather than observed Mr. Darcy’s similar reaction. He stood perfectly still, eyes fixed unblinking upon her poor cousin and the effects of the trauma caused by the birds.

She blinked. Miss Pierce had spoken, had needed her. “Yes, yes of course! The children.” She gathered the youngsters about her, all three of them wrapped within the circle of her arms. Julia was now crying as well. “I made Sammy sad! I didn’t wanna make him sad. I’m sorry!” The little girl wept, leaving wet stains on Elizabeth’s walking dress and tearing at the flowers on her bonnet.

 

Thank you for reading, guys! Good luck Guys in the giveaway! And thank you for reading another piece of my blog entries. Wish me luck for my exams!
Until next time, Cheers!

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The Avenger: Thomas Bennet & A Father’s Lament

“The Avenger: Thomas Bennet & A Father’s Lament”
By Don Jacobson, 2018

Dear Readers! Welcome Back! And Happy New Year (in two days)

I have been so fortunate as to be able to get on Don Jacobson’s review team yet again, this time it was for his newest book, “The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament” aka Mr Bennet’s story. Further down, Don offers a giveaway of this amazing book! So, keep reading, I promise its worth it!Avenger Blog Tour Banner HorzM[4562]

 

 

 

Blurb:

“Bennet looked at his wife’s swollen lips, softly bruised from several deeply loving kisses, and her flushed complexion, as alluring when gracing the countenance of a woman of four-and-forty as that of a girl of nine-and-ten. He was one of the lucky few to have fallen in love with the same woman at both ages.”

Thomas Bennet, Master of Longbourn, had always counted himself amongst the few educated gentlemen of his acquaintance. But he had to travel over 120 years into the future to discover how little he knew about the woman sharing his life.

Once again, the amazing Bennet Wardrobe proved to be the schoolmaster. Tom Bennet’s lesson? Mrs Bennet had been formed especially for him. Yet, it would be the good lady herself who taught him the power of the Fifth and Sixth Loves: Redemption and Forgiveness.

Fanny Bennet also would uncover deep wells of courage and inspiration as she stood by her man’s side in the bleak years after World War II. Together they would lead their descendants in pursuit of the beast who had wronged every member of the Five Families.

 

Avenger Final Full Wrapper2 121418 M[4567]

Review of “The Avenger”

The Wardrobe has once again a lesson to teach to a Bennet. This time the Master of Longbourn is the one who needs to learn something. But as seen in earlier works, the wardrobe has a nasty sense of humour, as Lydia so nicely coined the phrase.

The book starts out at the very end of 1945, where we meet ‘Rose’ who is the captive of a group of the last and most fanatical SS-officers. This leads to a plot on the Fitzwilliam family, not only in Scotland but also at the Beach House in Deauville. From here we as readers are transported back to the early autumn of 1814 in Hertfordshire where Mr and Mrs Bennet are starting over in their marriage when Mr Bennet gets the idea of travelling to see Lady Kate.

Only when they arrive, they arrive in a time and place, where WWII has only just finished, and their beloved fourth daughter has gone with Death as an old friend, into the next great adventure after her final meeting with an old enemy. This puts Mr and Mrs Bennet on a new course, where Mr Bennet not only learns the two most profound powers of; forgiveness and love, and but he also intends to avenge his ‘Kitty-cat.’

Did I hold my breath several times, during this book? The answer is; YES! Did I nearly bite off my nails in pure agony of the ending? Emphatically yes! Am I already waiting impatiently for the next book? YES! And most importantly, did I love this book? Well… I am sure the answer is quite easy to guess.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone

The Avenger takes us on a new journey through The Bennet Wardrobe – an alternate universe rising from Don Jacobson’s vivid imagination and based upon the immortal Pride and Prejudice. The Avenger is another important step leading to the culmination of this enchanting trip: one that has drawn us into its reality to travel side-by-side with richly sketched characters. Each book has left us wanting more.

The Bennet Wardrobe series stands alone as a unique result of originality focused on beloved characters as they move—and grow—through surprising plotlines.

Lory Lilian, author of Rainy Days

 

Author Bio:

Don Jacobson has written professionally for forty years.  His output has ranged from news and features to advertising, television and radio.  His work has been nominated for Emmys and other awards.  He has previously published five books, all non-fiction.  In 2016, he published the first volume of The Bennet Wardrobe SeriesThe Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey, novel that grew from two earlier novellas. The Exile is the second volume of The Bennet Wardrobe Series.  Other JAFF P&P Variations include the paired books “Of Fortune’s Reversal” and “The Maid and The Footman.”

Don Jacobson Head Shot[4560]

 Jacobson holds an advanced degree in History with a specialty in American Foreign Relations.  As a college instructor, Don teaches United States History, World History, the History of Western Civilization and Research Writing.

He is a member of JASNA-Puget Sound.  Likewise, Don is a member of the Austen Authors collective (see the internet, Facebook and Twitter).

He lives in the Seattle, WA area with his wife and co-author, Pam, a woman Ms. Austen would have been hard-pressed to categorize, and their rather assertive four-and-twenty-pound cat, Bear.  Besides thoroughly immersing himself in the JAFF world, Don also enjoys cooking; dining out, fine wine and well-aged scotch whiskey.

His other passion is cycling.  Most days from April through October will find him “putting in the miles” around the Seattle area (yes there are hills).  He has ridden several “centuries” (100-mile days).  Don is especially proud that he successfully completed the AIDS Ride—Midwest (500 miles from Minneapolis to Chicago) and the Make-A-Wish Miracle Ride (300 miles from Traverse City, MI to Brooklyn, MI).

 Contact Possibilities;

You as a reader can contact Don via these contact possibilities;

Don Jacobson’s Amazon Author’s Page

Goodreads Author’s Page (with blog)

Author Website (with blog)

Twitter  (@AustenesqueAuth)

Buy Info:

Don will get a buy link to you right after Christmas. The book is supposed to release on Christmas Day.

Pre-order Link:

Pre-order will be over by the time the blog tour starts. If you should want to promote it on Facebook or other social media, the link is below.

Amazon US

Avenger Blog Tour Banner HorzM[4570]

And now, the Giveaway! Which you have all been impatiently waiting for, so without further procrastination, I give you;

Giveaway:

Don is giving away 4 eBooks of The Avenger: Thomas Bennet and a Father’s Lament

Use the link below to link to rafflecopter on website.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0ca86b9b26/?

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MGNhODZiOWI4ODNmNDRkMjQ1ZDA5MDg0NTQ1MWExOjI2/

The Jane Austen Festival 2018

Another September is drawing to a close, and that means that the annually Jane Austen Festival in Bath has ended, yet again, and except with some rainy weather, it was another amazing visit to my favourite British city.

The visit started with a visit to Jane Austen’s house, 4 Sydney Place, where Christin and I took several pictures where I couldn’t keep my face straight from being so happy and pleased to be back with my regency sister in lovely Bath, a quick visit to the shops to get food and then off to meet with Elaine who arrived alongside of Emma and Gary.

After food and talk, we took a late night walk through the Gravel Walk, where I clearly could imagine lovers sharing a kiss in the shadows of the trees. My thoughts did wonder to the man of my own affections, at that point 😉😍

The next day started, with breakfast and dressing up in all our regency finery, for a day in the city, when we came outside it was raining quite a bit, so our first stop had to be a shop where umbrellas was sold, afterwards we made our way to Bath Abbey, where we, finally, met up with our dear friend Emma and her boyfriend, who we have heard so much about, Gary. We where photographed quite a bit in the Abbey, since we were dressed up as ladies of 1818, instead of women of the 21st century, which was another point which made us laugh quite heartily.

The next stop the five of us made was to The Jane Austen Centre near Queen Square, where we were greeted by one of Bath’s most well-known men, “Mr. Bennet” or Martin as we all know him as. Then up the rickety stairs to the tearoom where we got the full treat of “Tea with Mr Darcy” which included finger sandwiches, scones, and dainty small cakes and the Jane Austen blend tea, to which followed the exchange of birthday gifts to Emma, since I had received mine the evening before. It was wonderful to have a true and full afternoon tea with my dearest friends.

Then we made our way to the historical Assembly Rooms, where we had practice for the same evening’s Assembly Ball. It was so good to see so many familiar faces, and a few new ones as well. The dances was familiar when they caught up with you, and relearned with our hostess and caller for the evening. It’s not so weird that several of us have memories of being berated for laughing too much or not having our attention on the dances. After practice my friends and I returned to our small if cosy apartment just off of Pultney Bridge at Argyll Street, which couldn’t have been more central, we were 3 minutes away from Bath Abbey and 10 from the Assembly Rooms, so near perfect. Though one day, I want to try and stay at Bath Boutique Apartments or other spectacular places in Bath.

Though we got ready, for the ball, and the rain continued to fall, we called a carriage to take us to the ball. The Assembly Rooms was dressed and was looking wonderful, it was lit with lots of lights and the dinner rooms was ready to have the guests sitting for dinner. After greeting old friends, and catching up, the dancing commence. We danced and danced for two hours, until dinner was ready.

Dinner came and went, and after more talk, with new friends who was from Paris and we spoke of French Art, French Literature and Monet’s House in Gieverny. I love to hear French spoken correctly, especially by French.

The dancing recommenced and with lots of laughing and silliness we all danced all the night, until midnight. We took pictures, talked and laughed with our friends and acquaintances through the evening. Then sadly the ball ended, and it was a wonderful evening, with talk, flirting and lots of dancing. My friends and I returned to our apartment, where the talk continued until the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday morning dawned and surprise, it rained! Therefore my friends and I ended up in civil clothes, which was good since it was only 8 degrees. We had breakfast in the beautiful Pump Rooms, where talk ensued between the five of us; Gary, Emma, Elaine, Christin and I. Though I did regret that I hadn’t dressed up in regency for the mini promenade. But all in all, it was a lovely weekend. We walked along with the mini promenade, where the sun appeared, finally, and Christin and I got some amazingly funny pictures.

The weekend ended in London, with the flight leaving LHR towards Copenhagen. I cannot wait to go back, soon, 2019, already being planned 😉

The Autumn & Summer Gone

Hi Guys! Sorry I have been absent so long! Life happened sadly, but now I’m back!

Well, yet again the calendar states that it’s September and that means One thing and only 1 thing, namely; The Jane Austen Festival in Bath! And I’m going again for a few days to have fun with good friends who I have now known for 3, 4 and 5 years respectively. We are to attend the dance practice for the Farthingales Ball and Supper on Saturday afternoon, hopefully a visit to Prior Park, or so I hope if the weather will cooperate this year, the ball itself and the mini promenade on Sunday.

It has been a long summer this year, with university and practical training, and yet a fantastic tour back to the States and Bahamas.

August was in the sign of holidays, Florida/Fort Lauderdale where I haven’t been since I was a lass of 2 years of age. Bahamas was amazing, imagine crystal blue water, miles of white sandy beaches, green palm trees and cold drinks and leap of luxury at Grand Baha Hyatt Hotel outside of Nassau.

Bahamas is mostly known for its cigars, violent weather conditions during the autumn and winter season and tourism. Though for my visit, the whole point of the 9 day stay was to relax, swim, explore and just have fun. It’s not every girl who can boast of having celebrated her 25th birthday on a tropical island.

My twenty-fifth birthday started with waffles and fruit for breakfast and my sisters birthday gift for me; in form of a Rainbow necklace and the sweetest letter imaginable. When our waiter discovered it was my birthday, I was given a very fine dessert of chocolate ice cream with the proclamation; Happy Birthday from the kitchen staff.

The rest of the day was spent on the beach, with getting a golden tan and of course a lengthy long promised phone call from my boyfriend, who was out on assignment himself in the Baltic Sea. The family then treated me to drinks in the pool bar, during the afternoon and then dinner where I was gifted with a fancy new hair slide from the pets, a book of the most romantic poems in history; Shakespeare, Keats, Tennyson to mention a few and the most surprising gift from my parents was a white-gold ring with an emerald.

After 9 gloriously sunny days, the trip took the family and myself back to Fort Lauderdale and Fort Meyers, which is quite near the Mexican Gulf, where there was red tide which meant we couldn’t bathe in the sea. But we had rented a very large and nice house, with pool and a somewhat smart system to lock and open the house. Fort Meyers also meant a trip to Everglades National Park, to see gators and other wild life.

It was amazing to think that the last time I had been there, it was 1995 and I was being vastly unfair to my parents about driving so far, and my parents were therefore singing/humming the melody to Indiana Jones, which I do believe started my happiness with music. This time I was the one humming the melody to the music of John Williams from the Indiana Jones movies.

After 3 weeks of much needed holidays, I returned home to the news of a replaced practical placement in a kindergarten, which meant I could continue on with my class in December and only a week until the return of my boyfriend.

The reunion between my boyfriend Daniel and I were to say it in plain terms; passionate ❤️

Now, September means the Jane Austen Festival, for my fifth year in Bath. Amazing! Already 5 years! Be prepared for my blog about my weekend in Bath in 1818.

2 Years of Interestsofajaneaustengirl

Hej Guys!2nd year anniversary

I just noticed that I have now been running this blog for 2 years! Imagine that! I have already written so much about my passion for the Regency world, and I have met so many people, lovely authors and bloggers, who have written about Miss Austen’s beloved characters in their own setting, time and frame.
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has visited, commented, helped or just seen my blog, I am glad that I am able to entertain and hold your interest, with my travels, reviews and book tours that I have been part of, these last two years, it is a delight to find so many like-minded people around the Globe.

Here’s to many years of writing, reading and more friendships, and acquaintances to come.

Cheers, see you next time

The Best Laid Flight Plans

Hi Guys!!!

The Best Laid Flight Plans Front Cover

I am back this time, with Leigh Dreyer as my guest, she has been good enough to allow me to introduce, “The Best Laid Flight Plans” which is Leigh’s modern Pride and Prejudice Book to you guys! Leigh Dreyer is a huge fan of Jane Austen variations and the JAFF community. Leigh is born and raised in the Air Force Community, just as Elizabeth Bennet in “The Best Laid Flight Plans” with her Air Force husband, and two adorable children. Leigh is inspired by her own life, in Del Rio in Texas and had an almost magical experience transforming Del Rio into Longbourn City in her new book.

 

 

If you like flying above the clouds, seeing the world underneath you then this book is the book for you!

 

 Blurb

In this modern Pride and Prejudice variation, Captain William “Fitz” Darcy has just received a new assignment as an instructor pilot at Meryton Air Force Base. Soon he meets the intrepid 2nd Lieutenant Elizabeth Bennet, a new student at the base that he cannot keep out of his head. Elizabeth, on the other hand, finds Captain Darcy to be arrogant and prideful and attempts to avoid him at every turn. Despite Darcy’s insulting manners, Elizabeth soars her way through pilot training, but can she soar her way into love as well?

 Now I will let you all read what charmed me utterly when I started reading this lovely, and quite interesting turn of Pride and Prejudice into the Air Force Community and how our beloved couple ends up together, or will they? I give you chapter 1 of “The Best Laid Flight Plans”

 

Excerpt of Chapter One

The clouds burst below, and wispy peaks spiraled out as the plane surged through the sky. Captain William Darcy gazed at the horizon, crimson ribbons blazing across the sunrise. These peaceful moments were the only time he participated in anything resembling prayer. He checked his altitude and trimmed up.

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…”

Darcy recited these lines from “High Flight” to himself as he scanned his surroundings and instruments again, his situational awareness high. 

This mission was bittersweet. His last in the F-22. He would miss the deep alien whistle from the engines as it flew over the base, close enough to wave at families walking near the harbor. This sortie was an easy ride, nothing but practice and war games, but he took it seriously. He knew a few meters off perfection meant life and death. A slight left bank and the deep green mountains were to the east as he approached the runway for a quick touch and go.

Those jade Hawaiian mountains rising from the blackness of the earth were what he loved most about this base. Oddly, they were quite alien to his upbringing in Central New York. The woods surrounding Pemberley were green but never quite this other-worldly, tropical color. Somehow Pemberley’s hills and forests were more real, and he missed seeing the horizon curve over the gentle hills of his land. Here, that prospect was only available in the sky and he ached for it. He loved that feeling of being alone in the world and watching it go on forever.

Pushing forward on the stick, he felt the quick descent in a tactical approach before touching the runway for a split second—up on the thrust and away again, off to his place in the clouds and his head. He ran through the memorized checklist he needed to complete on this ride… Touch and goes: check. Ship car: incomplete. Go to the TMO office: incomplete. Schedule movers: incomplete. He blinked, staring unseeingly at his controls. Damn moving checklist! He halted the intruding checklist and reoriented to the task. Tactical approach: check. One more turn and then in for the landing.

He could not allow himself to think about moving again as he had spent enough energy on it already. He would have a quick Pilot Instructor Training in San Antonio and then the three-hour drive to the Mexican border to Longbourn City and Meryton Air Force Base to train America’s best and brightest student pilots. He loved flying more than anything in the world but wondered if that love extended to the staleness of helping brand new pilots grasp the basics of the T-38 Talon.

Darcy hated moving; it was the worst aspect of the Air Force. Having grown up at Pemberley, near the Finger Lakes, Darcy always knew his place in that perfect, idyllic world. He did not understand how anyone would ever want to leave where they had grown up. Pemberley was the place his soul lived. He looked again at the green around him as he flew, but it was not the right shade—nothing like the bright emerald leaves at home. Pemberley had the best views the world had to offer: brilliant green trees in the summer, vibrant fall colours in autumn, winters full of snow and sledding, and fields of wildflowers to rival any florist shop in spring. There were lakes for swimming, canoeing, or fishing. There were large rocks and mountains to hike. Darcy had never known a bored moment in his childhood.

His father had taught him to fly at twelve, first in a small Cessna and then later in the Bonanza. Together with his father, Darcy had grown up looking down on the prospect of his family’s holdings and missed them every time he was in the air. Flying was the only thing that kept him connected to his father and, thus far, the only reason he continued to tolerate moving by the whim of the Air Force.

Meanwhile, Meryton, Texas was stuck in the middle of a desert. When he looked up information about the base, the pictures only showed brown dirt, brown grass, brown sage bushes, and brown mesquite trees. The only positive was that there were ranches nearby. Bingley had even talked about leasing a little working farm and maybe living together when he arrived. Perhaps this move would be fun if he could put himself back in wide, open spaces where he belonged. He might even mentor Bingley in the business of agriculture along the way. William Darcy and Charles Bingley had become best friends at Cornell despite Bingley being a couple years junior. Both had been business majors and in the challenging program, Darcy’s reticence had balanced Bingley’s natural exuberance; it was a relationship that worked well for them both and followed into their military careers.

Darcy shook his head brusquely. He could feel his precision lagging as he pulled back from his daydreaming. Bank left, roll right. He held the stick just a little tighter and felt the metal, hot and slippery in his hand. It was hot. The cockpit was always hot, regardless of the external temperature, and as he pulled his damp flight suit away from his sticky chest, he smelled the musk of his sweat. It would be even hotter at Meryton. Hotter than Pemberley, to be sure. Possibly hotter than Hell itself, if his friends were to be believed.

On the upside, at Meryton, he would be able to go home to Pemberley occasionally as Meryton was near an airport and the ops tempo was significantly lower. As an instructor, he would be able to enjoy holidays, a luxury he had not experienced in the last four years; he might even be able to get other leave approved for once. Hawaii was too far to go home often and when he did go, he just depressed himself. Georgiana deserved more than a brother who moped around the house, seeing ghosts around every bend and hearing voices that could no longer be heard. Besides, he missed Mrs. Reynolds’ meals. He added “Enjoy a glass of Pemberley cabernet franc” to his moving checklist.

 

“Tower, this is Fitz 27. Request five-mile initial for the overhead.”

“Fitz 27, this is Tower…” Darcy listened and noted the vectors to begin his landing. After breaking, he threw down his landing gear and banked right, watching his speedometer and began to slow to two hundred and fifty knots after breaking over the numbers.

 

“Fitz 27 in the Break,” Darcy spoke clearly into the mic, adjusting the mask slightly closer to his lips in an effort to maintain clarity for the air traffic controllers watching the field.

“Fitz 27 Clear to Land,” the tower replied through the scratchy radio.

“Roger. Clear to Land.”

Darcy snapped the aircraft right again and applied the slightest of back pressures to the stick continuing his turn through the perch. He crossed the runway at fifty feet and grimaced as he felt the thud of a harder than usual landing. He pushed on the brakes and began his taxi to park. The runway was smooth, and he felt the long muscles of his legs flex as he steered toward the hangar.

Per tradition, with his last flight in the F-22, his squadron would be waiting for him with ice water and champagne ready to dump it over him in celebration before his move. He was not ready for the fini-flight celebration and began to recite another checklist to calm his rising anxieties. Smile during taxi to park. He promptly raised the corners of his mouth into what he hoped was a look of glee. Check. Take everything important out of flight suit pockets: check. Done before even leaving for the flight.

The plane slowed and stopped smoothly while the air traffic marshaller crossed his arms in front of him signalling the stop. Next, to the controller, a tall teenage girl echoed his movements, blonde hair blowing in the morning breeze. Darcy’s plastered smile grew as his lips turned into a real grin when he recognized his sister, Georgiana. As she crossed her arms in front of her chest, he put the brake on and stopped the plane’s rolling.

His flight stood with pressurized water hoses, coolers, and champagne bottles at the ready. He threw off his belts, helmet, and mask and opened the cockpit. As he stepped onto the ladder, the deluge started. The other pilots laughed and hooted in celebration. He closed his eyes to the onslaught of water and champagne and blindly stumbled down the ladder to the runway.

Shouts assaulted his ears while the pressured veins of water stung his skin beneath his flight suit.

“Fitz!”

“Darcy, you call that a landing?”

“Don’t spray the cockpit!”

“Hooray!”

“Fitz!”

“William!” His teenager sister’s voice rose out amongst the tumult.

Darcy ran toward Georgiana and as Darcy reached her, he felt the cool, sticky flood of champagne down the neck of his flight suit. Her thin frame was crushed and soaked by his hug. The cascade continued, sending chills down his spine and down into his leg and boots. The sweet smell of the alcohol mixed with his sweat and Georgiana’s perfume. He released her and turned to his cousin and was grasped in a bear hug.

“Richard!” Darcy’s shout was muffled over the water spray and ear-piercing shouts.

The two men laughed, Darcy, patting the back of his shorter cousin. The hug was interrupted by Georgiana jumping on his back as he grabbed her legs and spun her around. Onlookers clapped and cheered at the small family’s overt affection.

 “You have a real career in air marshalling, G,” Darcy said while lowering Georgiana to the ground.

Richard performed large sweeping hand motions in a teasing echo. “All those dance classes really paid off. Glad to see Will’s money wasn’t spent in vain.”

Georgiana blushed. “I can follow directions. It’s not that hard. Besides, I’ve never been allowed to do it before, so I was just excited they would let me even try.”

Darcy shook hands with his flight mates amidst the revelry.

“Good luck, Fitz.”

“Better you than me, old man.”

“If you see Hammock there in Meryton, tell him ‘hi’ for me, would you? He’s great to get a drink with. I think he’s in the 15th so you’ll have to keep an eye out for him.”

“Next time we gas up at Randolph over a weekend, I’ll give you a call!”

A helpful lieutenant took a group photo of the soaked but smiling faces, and Darcy escorted Richard and Georgiana back across the privileged-access runways. The rest of the squadron drove golf-carts and maintenance trucks and travelled quickly back to the unremarkable brick squadron building.

“Rich, I had no idea you would be here! How on earth did you swing it?” Darcy looked at Lieutenant Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam with a gleam in his eye. He noted Richard’s short auburn hair stuck up in a variety of interesting directions from the sticky champagne and cold spray.

“I had a little use or lose leave left, stopped by Mom and Dad’s, grabbed Georgie, and flew here. It was a near thing. We almost missed our connection in LA.”

Timid and mouse-like, but exuberant, Georgiana said, “Will, you should have seen us! We were running all through the terminals. I thought for sure we would pass out before the second one. We were wicked fast. I love to fly, but if I never go through LAX again, it will be too soon.”

 “Oh, Fitz—”

 “Richard, you know I hate that nickname.” Darcy grimaced and rolled his eyes toward the heavens. Georgiana giggled as she looked between the two.

 “Fitzwilliam is a perfectly fine nickname. Besides, Mom loves it.”

 “She loves it because… She thinks it’s cute.” Darcy sighed.

 “It is pretty cute.” Richard pinched Darcy’s cheeks as Darcy pulled away, smacking his hands, despite also carrying flight bags and his helmet.

Georgiana jumped in. “You are pretty cute, Fitz…” She burst into a fit of squeaking giggles.

Richard’s grin grew wider before sighing. “Anyway, Mom and Dad say ‘hello’ and I’m supposed to tell you that they think you should hurry up and get married so they have the hope of seeing a new generation of Fitzwilliam children before they die. I do believe they have finally given up on me.”

Richard was good-looking enough, if not handsome: dark auburn hair, green eyes with an ever-present hint of mischief, and a stocky build. He never seemed to lack a date but never seemed to want to settle down either. With his elder brother Preston’s marriage to a woman who does not want to have children, Richard was Aunt and Uncle Fitzwilliam’s only chance at grandchildren.

Inwardly, Darcy frowned despite his outward smiles. He would love to find someone to share his life with. He had been lost after his parents died, and a lasting love while in the military was difficult. Besides, Darcy could not fathom even introducing any of the women he had met to his younger sister. “Well, I’ll work on that”—tossing a flight bag at Richard’s head— “and maybe I’ll just mail-order one. Do they still do that sort of thing?”

 “Are you excited about your new station?” Richard asked.

 “Meryton? It’s not my number one pick, but I suppose it will be okay. I’ll be on the mainland, but I’m not looking forward to teaching know-it-alls who have never even been near a big boy plane, let alone in one.” Darcy clenched the straps on his bag as he picked it back up and swiped his security tag against the panel that opened the large, grey metal door.

“You mean know-it-all brats, like you?” Richard winked quickly at Georgiana and rushed down the stark hallway before Darcy could respond.

Wasn’t that just lovely? Seeing the sky and feel the freedom through Darcy’s eyes?! I fell in love even more with flying than I already am! I was strongly reminded of “Top Gun” while reading the book and couldn’t help but feel a little bad for Darcy when he falls for Elizabeth, and how she acted towards him! Poor guy, even if he was somewhat an arse because he’s shy and not comfortable in large gatherings.

 

My Review:

 

Flying high above the world, feeling the freedom and yet the control about flying must be one of the greatest feelings in the world. Leigh has written with both feeling and experience about flying above the skies, in her lovely book of “The best laid flight plans” where we are treated to a first-row sight of Darcy as an instructor at Longbourn AirBase in Texas, and Elizabeth as a student, earning her wings.

The opening chapter was without a doubt my ultimate favourite with the description of flying, and how Darcy felt in his own machine high above the ground, and yet still he is recognizable to Austen fans and readers, as the brooding man Austen first introduced us to, and the man we have come to know and love through BBC and movie versions of “Pride and Prejudice”.

It was extremely great to see how Darcy and Elizabeth would evolve within the Avionic World, and yet how their feelings still get them in trouble with each other and their hearts.

Leigh also managed to make her book very believable and made the reader feel drawn into the story and the location of Meryton Airbase and village around it. The characters of Bingley, Jane, Elizabeth and Darcy are without a doubt the strongest characters throughout Leigh’s book, though Anne did leave a somewhat positive experience, and Jane and Bingley were a pleasure to read, they are just a cute and adorable couple, and Leigh had their romance written in such a way that left the reader sighing happily.

I was beyond ecstatic when Pemberley appeared in the book as well! I was so pleased to see Mrs. Reynolds, and Georgiana – and even Darcy appear at his home where he finally shows his affections for Elizabeth so clearly that she cannot be in any doubt of his feelings. It was lovely! I was only sad to see the scene end so quickly.

I can admit to feeling EXTREMELY happy, for a feat Leigh got through in her book, which not many other authors of this genre have done, but I can also admit to feeling a little ashamed of just how happy it made me as a loss of a human life is sad. But never fear, its not one of the good guys.

While reading the book, it made me think back to “Top Gun” and “An Officer and a Gentleman” it gave some internal images of both Richard Gere and Tom Cruise as their respective roles, both who wants to fly jets, and I could easily see Elizabeth take up the role of commander in a flight alongside Darcy, or in their own respective jets and soar across the sky into the sunset together.

And finally, though the ending had me moaning the words, “Open-ended damn!” But then thought quickly after that, “Of course there must be a second book coming” and personally, I can’t wait to see what Leigh comes up with next.

 

You can all contact Leigh via these Contact Information;

 

Author Name: Leigh Dreyer

Email: leighdreyerauthor@gmail.com

Facebook: Leigh Dreyer

Facebook Page: @leighdreyerauthor

Website: http://www.leighdreyer.com/

Social Media Information

Hashtags:

#TheBestLaidFlightPlans

#LeighDreyer

#JAFF

#AustenInspired

 

Well, guys that were it for this time! I hope you enjoyed it and are in the mood to go and get your hands on this modern P&P book! It’s worth it! Thank you all for reading this blog, I look forward to your comments and to see you soon again for my next blog entry.

 

 

The Assistant Continued

Hi Guys!

I know it has been a while, but lovely Riana Everly has been good enough to write an epilogue for her amazingly good book, “The Assistant”since I asked if we couldn’t get a view of Edward and his unconventional wife later in life, and with a grownup Elizabeth with Darcy. And lately, Riana has returned from her trip to Europe with her family, and sent me the copy of the aforementioned Epilogue!

You can contact Riana via these links;

Universal link to the book: www.books2read.com/theassistant

Website: www.rianaeverly.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/RianaEverly/

Twitter: @RianaEverly

 

Now, I will let you read the Epilogue/Short Story! Happy Reading!

The Assistant – Epilogue: A short story
by Riana Everly

Summer, 1816

Edward looked down onto the streets of Derby from his room at the inn. The cobblestones shone wet from the night’s heavy rains and the air hung heavy with the smell of smoke, but the sun was struggling through the clouds, which in turn were thinning by the moment. The tang of memory hit Edward as keenly as the scent of fresh-baked bread from the kitchens below. It had been nigh on seventeen years before, on a day very much like this one, when he had last stayed in this room. That was the day his life changed, and oh, what a blessed change it had been! He chuckled at the recollection and took a lingering glance around the space before gathering the remainder of his belongings to load onto the coach for the last stage of this journey. His business completed to the satisfaction of all parties, he was headed back to his family.
The distance was not great—a mere ten miles—but the necessities of a late appointment the day before and another this morning just as the town was awakening had kept him in Derby overnight. Now he could put those cares away for some several days and enjoy the holiday he had planned. So enrapt was he in his memories and musings that he felt he had just settled into the carriage when it turned off the road and onto the path that led to the estate he had come to know so well. It was here that his dear wife had grown up, and here that his brother-by-marriage had settled with his own family, happy to care for the land that had been so hard won.
And there, running from the house, were the figures he would recognize anywhere. His two young daughters, still little girls in lace and bows and ribbons, all giggles and squeals and the gap-toothed smiles of childhood, tumbled over each other in their excitement at the sight of the carriage. As soon as it came to a stop, even before the grooms came to see to the horses, Edward had alighted and scooped the two children into his arms, covering their rosy faces with kisses, uncaring of his own face and clothing being covered in the remains of whatever jam they had eaten at breakfast. “Julia, Helena! How are my two best girls?” He laughed with them and whispered a secret about some gifts in his trunks. He had not been away for long, but he missed his family! Julia would soon be too big to embrace like this, and he vowed to enjoy every tickle until that day arrived.
Standing up now, he could see his sons waiting for him. Thomas wished for a hug and an embrace such as his sisters received, but he was clearly reticent. Edward well recalled the days when he, too, felt too old to demand such obvious paternal affection. Beaming his joy, he strode over to where the twelve-year-old boy stood and threw one arm around the lad’s shoulders, whilst ruffling his other hand through his son’s fair hair. “I trust you have been keeping a keen eye out for your mother and siblings, eh Tommy?” He was rewarded with a smile that mirrored his own. “I found that game you so enjoyed at a shop in Liverpool. We shall have plenty of time to discover its secrets before returning to London next month.”
And there, behind Thomas, lurking in the shadows, was Samuel. He was nearly fifteen years of age, quiet and serious, already taller than Edward, and lanky, with his father’s sandy hair and his mother’s pale eyes, as well as her startling intelligence. Sam would not appreciate such a physical show of paternal love, but would be well pleased with private chat after the chaos of the arrival had settled, when the two could talk man-to-man. Tea, and perhaps a game of cards or chess—those would suit Sam well.
And there, with a smile that after seventeen years could still illuminate his heart in the darkest of nights, was his wife. His beautiful, charming, unconventional wife. She said not a word, but waited quietly in one corner of the entry until all the rest of the party had dispersed back into the house, and then she grabbed his arm and pulled him into her corner, where she welcomed him home with a kiss that would surely shock their children. “I’ve missed you, Edward,” she whispered, before pulling him in for another embrace.
Before long, Edward’s belongings had been sent to his rooms to be unpacked, and the family were gathered in the morning room, where his brother-in-law and his family were waiting to greet him.
“Good success, Edward?” the gentleman asked.
“The best, Harry,” Edward answered between sips of coffee and nibbles of scone. “I shall have to take on another associate soon if business keeps up this way. Even with all the troubles,” he alluded to the armies of unemployed former soldiers trying to keep body and soul together, and to the severe shortages of flour and other staples, “we are doing tremendously well. I shall see about sponsoring more spaces at the local school for bright children in the area, and shall be able to double my contribution to the children’s hospital in London. We have been fortunate and what better way to show our gratitude than to share our fortune with the needy?”
“And that,” Harry’s voice took on a serious note, “is why you are the one man I know good enough for my sister.”
“I have news, Edward!” his wife wandered over from the sofa where she had been sitting. “You will never guess who is coming to visit, and to stay for some days, even!” Without giving him a chance to respond, she continued, “None other than Lizzy and Darcy and the children! They arrive this afternoon. It seems Darcy wishes to confer with my brother about how he is integrating the new factories without turning farmers off their lands. Whilst the men set about that matter, we shall have the pleasure of Lizzy’s company. Are you not delighted?”
Indeed, he was. Lizzy had long been his favourite niece. From her earliest childhood, Edward had predicted she would make a splendid match, and this she had, enticing one of the best—and wealthiest—men in this part of England to fall in love with her and marry her. Darcy was quiet and reserved almost to extremes, but he and Samuel had found a connection much like his own with his niece, and Edward was most pleased with this choice of relations. Lizzy could not have done better, for she and her husband suited perfectly, each with strengths to complement the other’s relative shortcomings. They would be welcome guests indeed.
~*~
As promised, the Darcy’s arrived in plenty of time before dinner to settle into their chambers and give the children some time to grow accustomed to the house. Arlenby was much smaller than Pemberley, but it was not their home and tender feelings must be accommodated. The older of the two, a son and the pride of his father’s life, was curious and sharp-witted, sounding much older than his three years when he spoke. The other, still a baby at thirteen months, was a sweet little girl who looked the image of her mother. They were only slightly younger than Harry’s children, and would remove to the nursery when not being doted upon by their parents and cousins. Edward’s youngest daughter, now eight years of age, immediately appointed herself baby Beth’s protectress and special guardian, cooing, “I can look after the baby all by myself! Yes, I can!”
Will, the Darcys’ son, scampered across the room in which the families were gathered. “Where is Cabal? I know he was with the other carriage. Has he not yet arrived?” The young voice seemed at odds with such clearly enunciated words and such perfect sentences.
“Cabal?” Harry asked.
“My hound,” Darcy replied. “He accompanies me when I travel. The children are quite lost without him. He will stay in the stables…”
“If he makes friends with my own hound, he may stay in the house,” Harry interrupted, earning a rare and brilliant smile from his guest.
“Thank you. Let us make that decision later. For the nonce, I would be pleased to conduct my son to the stables.” This pronouncement was met with general approval from all the children, and within moments the proud Mr Darcy led an excited contingent from the room, a veritable Pied Piper albeit with far less sinister motives.
“Darcy is far from the solemn youth I knew as a lad,” Harry smiled at Lizzy, who held baby Beth on her lap, the only child not to join the procession. “You have improved him.”
“Nay, sir, he is as he always was. He requires only comfort and the company of good friends to allow his true nature to shine forth!” She bestowed a beautiful smile upon her host, and Edward felt his own lips respond in kind, so pleased at the happiness evident in his favourite niece.
~*~
The following day Darcy and Harry retired to the study to discuss the matter that had brought the latter thither, and Edward and his dear wife spent some hours attending the discussions, for although the topic was of no personal relevance to them, it was a matter of interest and one that must affect the entire country at some time or another.
“For all its prosperity,” Darcy explained to the others in the study, “Pemberley is traditional—backward, even—in its economy. I know that industry is the way of the future, and where I must venture if my land is to retain its value, but I cannot countenance throwing good farmers off the good land. I have established some small mills on marginal land and at some of the fast-moving streams that flow down from the crags and hills, and still, I know this is not enough. You seem to have found some creative means to keep your farmers on your lands without sacrificing the productivity of your factories,” he directed to Harry, “and I would be most pleased to hear your ideas.”
Harry nodded and reached for a pile of maps and plans and began to explain his own careful plans and how they had unfolded over the past several years. Edward followed the conversation with interest, his mind wandering only occasionally as some notion or another sprung up as to how his own business might benefit from the concepts under discussion. With his own comments and those of his astute wife, and the morning passed more quickly than he could have imagined.
When they broke in the early afternoon for refreshments, they found Lizzy and Harry’s wife in animated conversation with their youngest children playing contentedly at their feet. Baby Beth had discovered the joys of building towers of wooden blocks and then sending them crashing to the ground with squeals of joy, and Harry’s two-year-old daughter Emily was contentedly ripping up scraps of three-day-old newspaper.
“Where are the others?” Darcy asked as he bowed low over his wife’s hand and caressed it with a kiss.
“Samuel made mention of a pond, and Will insisted on visiting it. Between Julia and Helena and Miss Lemmon’s careful attention, I saw no reason not to permit the outing. The day is fine, too fine to remain close to the house.”
“A grand plan, my dear,” Darcy smiled. “And it is excellent for cousins to grow up to be friends as well as relations. Such close connexions will serve them all so well as they grow.” Edward was aware of Darcy’s deep friendship with his own cousin, and concurred.
The six adults were soon settled at their own repast when noises from the garden doors drew their attention, and a gaggle of children rushed into the sunny parlour where their parents sat with tea and sandwiches. Faces were kissed and heads ruffled, until Darcy asked, “Where is Will?” His voice was cold, his eyes icy. This, Edward now knew, was a sign not of indifference or disdain, but of distress.
“Will?” Lizzy’s alarm was clear.
“Is he not home?” Miss Lemmon gasped. “I had thought he had returned with the girls, just a few minutes ago.”
“No,” Helena stated, “he did not join us to look at the roses, but rushed back to the pond where the boys were.
Samuel’s eyes grew wide. “I did not see him at the pond after he followed you,” he directed at his young sister’s. “We all thought he returned to the house with Cabal.”
“He is with Cabal?” Darcy’s voice, whilst still tight, eased the smallest amount.
“If he is with Cabal, he will be safe,” Samuel asserted. For all his own alarm, Edward knew the deep affection his son held for the Darcys’ large hound, and was quite convinced that the dog would protect its people with its life.
“We must find them! We must be off at once!” Lizzy leapt from her chair, and rushed off, calling for her hat and boots. Harry barked orders at the maid, who in turn dashed off to assemble a party of servants to assist in the search. Darcy was already at the door, calling for directions to the pond, whilst Harry’s wife assured everybody that she would remain with Miss Lemmon and the children, and would take care of baby Beth.
Despite Samuel’s confidence in his canine friend, the panic in the room was palpable: a three-year-old was missing!
Quick plans were made, and the various searchers ran off in their assigned directions to locate the child. He could not have travelled far, although he had been missing for nearly a quarter of an hour. Darcy’s voice shouted that he seemed not to be at the pond, although everybody held that dread that the boy might have fallen in and drowned. Lizzy could no longer hold back her tears and ran off to her husband who was stripping down to his shirt and breeches in order to dive into the pool of water to assure himself that his son was not in its depths.
In the chaos of tears and shouts and wringing of hands, Edward looked at his wife. “You don’t think…?”
“He could not know if it,” her sweet voice replied, “but we must be certain.” She now called for her own boots, and Edward did likewise, before meeting his lady at the door closest to the laneway that would take them to their destination.
“Where are you going?” Lizzy called from the gardens, her voice breaking with distress. Darcy had seen no sign of Will in the pond, but there were other dangers all around.
“An idea… just a thought… it cannot be, but one never knows…” her aunt replied as she moved smartly down the lane.
“I will join you!” Lizzy rushed after them, heedless of the state of her dress or of her red eyes.
The three moved quickly down the avenue of trees and shrubbery, past the edge of the property and into the woods beyond, whence came the trickle that fed the pond. There came to their ears the sound of rushing water, of the stream grown bold and swollen by the recent rains, and then the sound of a dog barking.
“Cabal!” Lizzy shouted, and in the distance, her husband’s voice echoed, “Cabal!”
The dog barked again, and then again. By the time the adults located the source of the barking, Darcy had caught up with them, and he added his voice to the calls of, “Will! Will!”
“Mama, Papa, I am safe!” A small voice sounded through the trees. “But I cannot come to you, for I am marooned.”
Where on earth, Edward wondered with distraction, did a three-year-old learn a word like “marooned?”
They broke through into a clearing by the stream, and there on a small island in the rushing water, stood young Will, with faithful Cabal at his side.
“I wanted to know where the water came from for the pond,” he stated, “and when I found this river, I decided to examine the rock here,” he pointed calmly to a large pink and black variegated stone. “But then the branch holding back the water broke away and I was stranded. Cabal came to be with me, but he could not carry me to safety.” The dog was, Edward could now see, covered in wet mud up to his haunches.
Darcy, already wet and muddy from his dive into the pond, delayed not an instant, but strode into the rushing waters, confident in his own strength and superior height. He reached his son in moments and carried him back to the safety of the shore, Cabal following obediently, his job of ensuring the child’s safety now completed. Edward’s mind flashed back to a similar incident so many years ago and he shivered at the recollection.
Hugs and kisses and cries of wonderment and alarm at the boy’s adventure ensued, his parents alternately angry and relieved, consoling and chastising, and before long the group returned to the manor house. Edward rushed ahead to alert the other searchers that the young fugitive had been found safe and sound, and by the time the others entered the house, they were met with warm blankets and the guilty good wishes of all.
“Uncle, Aunt,” Lizzy breathed when at last she felt able to relinquish her son from her arms, “however did you think to go to the woods? Whatever made you look there?”
Aunt Gardiner pulled the young woman into a quick embrace and winked at her husband. “Does she not know, my dear?”
Edward smiled and let his eyes drift back to a day not so different from this one, seventeen years before. “Ah, Lizzy, now that is a tale. Did I never tell you the story of how I met your aunt?”

Wasn’t that just lovely? And Sweet? Did you remember how Aunt Gardiner and Uncle Gardiner met? I chuckled at the ending, and just plain loved it personally!

Guys, that was that for this time! I will be back soon with “The Best Laid Flight Plans” with Leigh Dreyer. See you soon!